I just got back from a quick visit to Andy Gullahorn‘s childhood home in Texas, and it was exactly as you would imagine it to be: a picturesque ranch house, ATVs, big trucks, wide fields pocked with cow patties, and Andy’s dad in the backyard teaching Andy’s daughter how to shoot a gun. I’m not joking.
If you’ve seen Gullahorn live, you’ve probably heard him talk about the fact that he’s from Texas. Most people from Texas can hardly stop talking about the fact that they’re from Texas. They brag about how everything in Texas is better than everywhere else, and how Texas was the only state that used to be a country, and how they’re allowed to fly their flag at the same height as the American flag, and how guns are cool and so is Texas. I remember, for example, George W. Bush responding to the accusation that he has a swagger by saying that in Texas they just call it walking.
I tend to roll my eyes at Texophilia (a word I might have just coined), but I have to admit that there is some evidence that Texas is pretty great. Take my recent trip to Laity Lodge for example: three days with the Gullahorns, Buddy Greene and Jeff Taylor, Eugene Peterson, a delightful group of attendees, fine meals, mist on the Frio River, a Steinway piano and a library of my favorite books.
Then there’s Taco Cabana, beef brisket, Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove (my favorite western book and movie), Lyle Lovett and a passel of other singer/songwriters like Townes Van Zant and Guy Clark. So yes, Texas has some cool stuff–but I think a lot of that has to do with its sheer size. It’s a matter of mathematics that they’re bound to have a few more notable residents than, say, Rhode Island.
But when I watch Andy play his songs, I wonder if there’s more to it than math. There must be something in the water, I think. Otherwise, how could he do that? How did he just move an audience from howling laughter to deep stillness in the space of a few lines? And as a songwriter I wonder how he keeps finding angles, new ways of looking at things, new turns on old clichés. I wonder how a guy who grew up shooting deer, riding four-wheelers, raising cattle, and baling hay could have learned to write songs about not just funny things but wise things: faithful marriage, obedience, Christ, sin, children–Kingdom things. I wonder how a guy who never reads can be so deft with words. And so deft with sideburns. I wonder how someone from the cockiest state in the union–yes, union, Texans–can so humbly tell a story.
I have a hunch Gullahorn will read this, so to preserve our friendship I’ll stop gushing. But I wanted to tell you his new record is about to release (December 1) and that you can order it here in the Rabbit Room Store. If you pre-order you’ll get an immediate download of the album.
Like his previous albums Room to Breathe and Reinventing the Wheel, this one features little more than Andy’s voice and acoustic guitar. Of course, his wife Jill Phillips sings on it, and cellist David Henry added some pretty sounds. But what’s front and center here are songs. Excellent songs, from start to finish. And that’s exactly how Texas wants it.